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UAB brings back OC Bryant Vincent in same role

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Bill Clark has reached back to the past for the future of his UAB offense.

Friday, the Blazers announced that Bryant Vincent has been hired by Clark to serve as his offensive coordinator.  Vincent, who will also take over as the Blazers’ quarterbacks coach, had previously spent one record-setting season guiding UAB’s offense in 2014.

“Bryant’s familiarity with UAB and Birmingham will make for a seamless transition as our offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach,” a statement from Clark began. “The offense in 2014 thrived under his direction and we are excited to hit the ground running with an experienced group heading into the 2018 season.”

Vincent began his FBS coaching career at South Alabama from 2011-13 before moving on to UAB the first time.  After that one-year stint that lasted just one year because the administration killed off the program before bringing it back months later, Vincent went back to USA as co-offensive coordinator and assistant head coach; in late September of last year, Vincent was fired by the Jaguars after a little over two years on the job.

“We are more than excited to be back at UAB and part of Blazer Nation,” Vincent said. “Coach Clark and his staff have accomplished unbelievable things here. I look forward to being a part of that championship environment daily and taking the next step together. My family is very appreciative of Coach Clark and Jennifer and we can’t wait to begin.”

It was announced in early January that Les Koenning would not be returning as coordinator and quarterbacks coach, opening the door for Bryant’s return.

Conference USA releases 2018 schedule

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Conference USA released its 2018 schedule on Tuesday, confirming that once again the league will play football this fall.

The league slate kicks off Sept. 8 with FIU’s visit to Old Dominion, while the first game involving a C-USA team is set for Aug. 25, when Rice hosts Prairie View A&M. Conference games are scattered throughout the month of September, with the first full Saturday slate coming on Oct. 6 with Old Dominion at Florida Atlantic, UAB at Louisiana Tech, Middle Tennessee at Marshall, North Texas at UTEP and UTSA at Rice.

While the MAC has opted for a full embrace of midweek football, Conference USA has gone in the exact opposite direction. Not one C-USA game is scheduled as of today for a weeknight — Thursday or Friday included — and only one game will be played on a day other than Saturday, a Friday, Aug. 31 visit to Wisconsin by Western Kentucky.

The most-anticipated non-conference games involving C-USA teams are Florida Atlantic’s opener at Oklahoma and on Sept. 1 and the Owls’ Sept. 22 visit to reigning American and Peach Bowl champion UCF. North Texas also has two shots to win nationwide respect for the league in its opener against SMU on Sept. 1 in Denton and a Sept. 15 visit to retooling Arkansas.

The highlight of the league schedule comes on Nov. 17 with a rematch of the 2017 title game when Florida Atlantic visits North Texas. The Owls won both meetings last season by a combined score of 110-48.

The 14th C-USA Championship will be held on Dec. 1 at the home of the division winner with the best conference record. FAU will look to become the second straight back-to-back C-USA champion, joining Western Kentucky in 2015-16.

Ohio turns lights out on UAB’s dream return season with blowout Bahamas Bowl win

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The clock has officially struck midnight on UAB’s Cinderella season.

Ohio (9-4) jumped out to a 27-6 halftime lead and UAB (8-5) couldn’t get much closer than that the last two quarters, with the Bobcats heading back to the States with a dominating and impressive 41-6 win in the fourth annual Bahamas Bowl.  With the win, Ohio snapped a three-game bowl losing streak, winning its first postseason games since the 2012 Independence Bowl.  The win also improves Frank Solich‘s bowl record to 3-6 at Ohio and 5-9 for his career (he was 2-3 at Nebraska).

As they have throughout the season, Ohio did a significant amount of its damage on the ground.  The Bobcats, who came into the game 17th nationally averaging just over 244 yards per game, ran for 250 as a team on the afternoon.  Dorian Brown had himself a game individually, accounting for 152 of those yards — on just 12 carries — and four rushing touchdowns.  The latter number tied the single-game Bahamas Bowl record previously set by Western Michigan’s Jamauri Bogan in the 2015 game.

Brown, not surprisingly, was named the Player of the Game.

Quarterback Nathan Rourke also acquitted himself quite well, completing 12-of-18 passes for 185 yards and a pair of first-half touchdowns in just three quarters worth of work.  This marked the first time since October that the sophomore had thrown for multiple touchdowns in a game.

In a losing effort, A.J. Erdely passed for 248 yards.  That effort was the third time in 13 games this season that he’s thrown for 200-plus, and served as the second-highest total behind the 321 yards the junior put up in a Sept. 23 loss to North Texas.

Despite the lopsided loss that was its worst of the year, what UAB has done this season should be applauded.  With a resounding standing ovation.

After the administration unnecessarily disbanded the football program in December of 2014 and then, under intense public pressure and alongside a massive fundraising effort, resurrected it less than a year later, the Blazers resumed football on the field in 2017 following a two-season sabbatical.  And what a remarkable return it was as Bill Clark‘s squad won eight games in the regular season, the most in the program’s history — topping the old standard of seven set in 2004 — and finished second in the Conference USA’s West division.

Today was just the program’s second-ever bowl game as the Blazers were looking for their first-ever postseason win.  While they didn’t find it, everyone involved should be proud of what they’ve accomplished this season.

Ohio having its first-half way with UAB in Bahamas Bowl

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If UAB’s going to put a winning cherry on top of the magical sundae that was its 2017 regular season, the Conference USA program has some significant work to do.

Ohio (8-4) came into its matchup with UAB (8-4) in the fourth annual Bahamas Bowl 17th in the country in rushing, averaging just over 244 yards per game.  The Bobcats are well over halfway to that number through two quarters of play as they’ve run over — and over the top of, on one occasion — the Blazers’ defense in taking a commanding 27-3 into the halftime locker room.

The Bobcats finished the first half with 146 yards on the ground.  Thanks in very large part to his 75-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter, Dorian Brown led the Bobcats with 80 yards and a pair of touchdowns on the ground.

While the Bobcats are known for their ground prowess under Frank Solich, and showed as much the first 30 minutes, they actually scored two of their first-half touchdowns off the right arm of quarterback Nathan Rourke.  Included in that was Ohio’s second-longest scoring pass of the season, a 56-yarder from Rourke to Papi White.

Thanks to that somewhat unexpected production in the passing game, Ohio nearly doubled-up UAB in total offense in the first half (272-148).  The Bobcats also put up twice as many first downs at 14-7.

On a positive note, the Blazers will get the ball on offense to start the second half.

CFT Previews: Your Dec. 22 Bowl Viewer’s Guide

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Taking a quick-hit look at the Dec. 22 bowl menu, which today features the best feel-good team of the 2017 college football season as well as a quarterback who could be a Top-10 pick in the 2018 NFL draft.

WHO: UAB (8-4) vs. Ohio (8-4)
WHAT: The 4th Bahamas Bowl
WHEN: 12:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
WHERE: Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium, Nassau, Bahamas
THE SKINNY: Normally, I couldn’t give a spit who wins any of these bowl games as long as they put on a good, entertaining show.  This is one of the lone exceptions, however, because how can you not root for the UAB football program in general and the players and coaches in particular?  After the administration unnecessarily disbanded the football program and then, under intense public pressure and alongside a massive fundraising effort, resurrected it less than a year later, the Blazers resumed football on the field in 2017 following a two-season sabbatical.  And what a remarkable return it was as Bill Clark‘s squad won eight games in the regular season, already the most in the program’s history — topping the old standard of seven set in 2004 — and finished second in the Conference USA’s West division.  After a so-so 4-3 start, they finished the regular season by winning four out of five games, with the lone loss being to Florida in Gainesville.   Oh, and have I mentioned that this will mark just the second-ever bowl game for the Blazers?  Fitting the glass slipper on this football Cinderella story won’t be easy, though.  Ohio has made its hay this season on the ground, finishing the regular season 17th in the country in rushing yards per game at just over 244; UAB, conversely, was slightly below average in giving up 169.8 ypg (71st out of 130 FBS teams).  The Blazers can also run the ball quite effectively as they’re 37th nationally (190.3 ypg); that plays right into the MAC school’s strength, however, as the Bobcats are 11th in stopping the run (111.4 ypg).  That said, Ohio stumbled into the postseason having lost two games in a row… and they’ve also lost three bowls game in a row… and, dammit, UAB is just too good of s story for it to end any other way than with a win.  Here’s to saying the program will celebrate its second-ever postseason tilt by winning in its first-ever bowl game.  That could just be the heart, not the head, talking, though.
THE LINE: UAB, +7
THE PREDICTION: UAB 27, Ohio 26

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WHO: Central Michigan (8-4) vs. Wyoming (7-5)
WHAT: The 21st Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
WHEN: 4 p.m. ET on ESPN
WHERE: Albertsons Stadium, Boise, Idaho
THE SKINNY: Arguably the marquee player with the most national name recognition today makes his appearance in this game, quarterback Josh Allen, after a little bit of injury uncertainty, suits up for and starts in what’s expected to be his last game at the collegiate level.  That said, Allen struggled this season compared to last as an inferior supporting cast and the injury to his throwing arm did him no favors; Central Michigan’s pass defense (23rd in the country, 188.2 ypg) could do him no favors in his college football swan song, either. … Neither team has had much success of late in the postseason, with the Chips dropping three bowl games in a row (last win: 2012) and the Cowboys two straight (last win: 2009). … If you’re looking for the hotter of the two teams in the here and now, it’s easily the MAC school as CMU closed out the regular season winning five in a row while their opponent today dropped two straight to end the year.  Allen didn’t play in those two losses, it should be noted, and UW was 7-3 in games the junior signal-caller started this season. … This bowl game will serve as a quasi-home game for the Cowboys as Boise is a mere 680 miles from Laramie.  For comparison’s sake, Kalamazoo is just over 1,800 miles away, so the Cowboys have that going for them.  Which is nice. … One stat of which you may not be aware before we leave: Wyoming is 12th in the country in scoring defense, giving up an average of just 17.8 points per game.
THE LINE: Central Michigan, +3½
THE PREDICTION: Central Michigan 24, Wyoming 20